Netherlands New Guinea: Wikis


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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Netherlands New Guinea
Dutch colony

Flag Coat of Arms
Setia, Djudjur, Mesra  (Indonesian)
"Loyal, Honest, Affectionate"
Hai Tanahku Papua
"Oh My Land Papua"
Netherlands New Guinea
Capital Hollandia
Language(s) Dutch, various Papuan and Austronesian languages
Religion Christianity, Animism
Political structure Colony
Historical era Cold War
 - Established December 29, 1945
 - Disestablished October 1, 1962
Area 420,540 km2 (162,371 sq mi)
Currency Netherlands New Guinean gulden
Steamboat connections in Netherlands New Guinea in 1915.

Netherlands New Guinea (Dutch: Nederlands Nieuw-Guinea) refers to Western New Guinea while it was an overseas territory of the Kingdom of the Netherlands from 1949 to 1962. Until 1949 it was a part of the Netherlands Indies. It was commonly known as Dutch New Guinea. It is currently Indonesia's two easternmost provinces, Papua and West Papua (administered as one single unit prior to 2003 under the name Irian Jaya).

The Netherlands retained New Guinea when Indonesia became independent in 1949. The arguments of the Dutch government for this changed repeatedly over time. At any rate the Dutch policy with regard to New Guinea was strongly influenced by the Dutch position towards Indonesia. On the one hand the Netherlands wanted to use New Guinea as a Dutch sphere of influence in the region. On the other hand by developing New Guinea and emancipating the Papuan population the Netherlands wanted to vindicate itself as a responsible colonial power.

Indonesia claimed New Guinea as part of its territory. The dispute over New Guinea was an important factor in the quick decline in bilateral relations between the Netherlands and Indonesia after Indonesian independence. Starting in 1962, under pressure from the international community and under threat of armed conflict with Indonesia, the Netherlands relinquished control and a series of events led to the eventual official annexation of New Guinea in 1969 to Indonesia. (See below.)


New Guinea until WW II

Until after the Second World War the western part of the island of New Guinea was part of the Dutch colony of the Netherlands Indies. The Netherlands claimed sovereignty over New Guinea within the Netherlands Indies through its protection over Tidore, a sultanate on a Moluccan island west of Halmahera. In a 1660 treaty the Dutch East India Company (VOC) recognised Tidore's supremacy over the Papuans, the inhabitants of New Guinea. Probably this referred to some Papuan islands near the Moluccas; this protectorate should be considered a legal fiction because at any rate Tidore never exercised actual control over New Guinea. In 1872 Tidore recognised Dutch sovereignty and granted permission to the Kingdom of the Netherlands to establish administration in its territories whenever the Netherlands Indies authorities would want to do so. This allowed the Netherlands to legitimise a claim to the New Guinea area.

The Dutch established the 141st meridian as the eastern frontier of the territory. In 1898 the Netherlands Indies government decided to establish administrative posts in Fakfak and Manokwari, followed by Merauke in 1902. The main reason for this was the expansion of British and German control in the east. The Dutch wanted to make sure Great Britain and Germany would not move the border to the west. This resulted in the partition of the island of New Guinea.

In reality the most part of New Guinea remained outside of colonial influence. Little was known about the interior; large areas on the map were white and the number of inhabitants of the island was unknown, although the so-called Carstensz-expedition was undertaken in 1936. The indigenous inhabitants of New Guinea were Papuans, living in tribes. They were hunter-gatherers.

Pre-war economic activity was limited. Only coastal and island dwellers traded to some extent, mostly with the Moluccan islands. A development company was founded in 1938 to change this situation, but it was not very active. So, until WOII, New Guinea was a disregarded and unimportant territory within the Netherlands Indies.


Homeland for the Eurasians

The group that was most interested in New Guinea before the war were the Eurasians or Indo people. Before the war some 150.000 to 200.000 Eurasians were living in the Netherlands Indies. They were of mixed European and Indonesian descent and identified with the Netherlands and the Dutch way of life. In the colonial society of the Netherlands Indies they held a higher social status than indigenous Indonesians ("inlanders"). They were mostly employed as office workers. As the educational level of indigenous Indonesians was on the rise, more and more Indonesians got jobs previously held by Eurasians. These had no other means of making a living, because, as Europeans, they were forbidden to buy land on Java. This situation caused mental and economic problems to the Eurasians. In 1923 the first plan to designate New Guinea as a settlement territory for Eurasians was devised. In 1926 a separate Vereniging tot Kolonisatie van Nieuw-Guinea (Association for the Settlement of New Guinea) was founded. In 1930 it was followed by the Stichting Immigratie Kolonisatie Nieuw-Guinea (Foundation Immigration and Settlement New Guinea). These organisations regarded New Guinea as an untouched, almost empty land that could serve as a homeland to sidelined Eurasians. A kind of tropical Holland, where Eurasians, many of whom never visited the Netherlands, could create an existence.

These associations succeeded in sending settlers to New Guinea and lobbied successfully for the establishment of a government agency to subsidise these initiatives (in 1938). However, most settlements ended in failure because of the harsh climate and natural conditions, and because of the fact the settlers, previously office workers, were not skilled in agriculture. The number of settlers remained small. In the Netherlands proper some organisations existed that promoted a kind of "tropical Holland" in New Guinea, but they were rather marginal. They were linked to the NSB party and other fascist organisations.

Origin of the dispute over New Guinea

In 1942 most part of the Netherlands Indies were occupied by Japan. Behind Japanese lines in New Guinea, Dutch guerrilla fighters resisted under Mauritz Christiaan Kokkelink. During the occupation the Indonesian nationalist movement went through a rapid development. After Japan's surrender, Soekarno declared the Republik Indonesia, which was to encompass the whole of the Netherlands Indies. The Dutch authorities returned after several months under the leadership of Lieutenant-Governor-General Hubertus van Mook. Van Mook decided to reform Indonesia on a federal basis. This was not a completely new idea, but it was contrary to the administrative practice in the Netherlands Indies until then and contrary to the ideas of the nationalists, who wanted a centralist Indonesia.

Linggadjati agreement

Van Mook's plan was to divide Indonesia in several federal states, negara's, with possible autonomous areas, daerah's. The whole would be called the United States of Indonesia and would remain linked to the Netherlands in the Netherlands-Indonesian Union. The Indonesian side agreed to this plan during the Linggadjati conference in November 1946. Van Mook thought a federal structure would safeguard Indonesia's cultural and ethnic diversity. Van Mook and his supporters referred to the right of self-determination in this respect: the different ethnic communities of Indonesia should have the right to govern themselves. The ethnic diversity of Indonesia was previously discussed at two conferences in Malino and Pangkalpinang.

During these two conferences New Guinea was discussed for the first time. During the Malino conference a Papuan participant declared New-Guinea should become a part of the state of East Indonesia. During the Pangkalpinang conference the right of self-determination of the Eurasian, Chinese and Arab ethnic minorities was discussed. The new Grooter Nederland-Actie (Extended Netherlands Action) send delegates to this conference, who noted Eurasians should be able to retain their culture and position; some Eurasians mentioned New Guinea as a possible homeland for Eurasians. Furthermore this conference stipulated specific territories could have special relations with the Kingdom of the Netherlands if they wanted to. However, the conference did not consider the indigenous Papuan population capable of exercising its right of self-determination.

The unilateral amendment of 'Linggadjati'

To many Dutchmen, the idea of parting with Indonesia was shocking. Many Dutch thought their country had a mission to develop Indonesia. The Indonesian wish for independence to many Dutch came as a complete surprise. Because Indonesian nationalists under Soekarno cooperated with the Japanese, they were branded as traitors and collaborators. Almost every Dutch political party was against Indonesian independence. The protestant Anti-Revolutionary Party (ARP) were very supportive of the Dutch Ethical Policy in Indonesia. The newly established liberal VVD party campaigned for a hard-line policy against the nationalists. Even the Dutch Labour Party, which supported Indonesian independence in principle, was hesitant, because of the policies of Soekarno.

Minister of Colonies Jan Anne Jonkman defended the Linggadjati Agreement in Parliament in 1946 by stating that the government wished for New Guinea to remain under Dutch sovereignty, arguing it could be a settlement for Eurasians. Probably he thought up this argument himself. A motion entered by the catholic KVP and the Labour Party, which was accepted by parliament, stated that the declaration of Jonkman in parliament should become a part of the Linggadjati agreement. Duly accepted, the Netherlands thus unilaterally 'amended' the Linggadjati agreement to the effect that New Guinea would remain Dutch. Labour parliamentary group leader Marinus van der Goes van Naters said afterwards the Labour party entered the motion with the KVP because it feared the Catholics otherwise might reject the Linggadjati agreements.

The Indonesians did not accept this unilateral amendment. In order not to jeopardise the scheduled transfer of sovereignty, the Indonesian vice-president Mohammad Hatta offered to maintain Dutch sovereignty over New Guinea for one year and reopen the negotiations afterwards.


Thus in 1949, when the rest of the Dutch East Indies became fully independent as Indonesia, the Dutch retained sovereignty over western New Guinea, and took steps to prepare it for independence as a separate country. Some five thousand teachers were flown there. The Dutch put an emphasis upon political, business, and civic skills. The first local naval cadets graduated in 1955 and the first army brigade become operational in 1956.

Elections were held across Dutch New Guinea in 1959 and an elected New Guinea Council officially took office on 5 April 1961, to prepare for full independence by the end of that decade. The Dutch endorsed the council’s selection of a new national anthem and the Morning Star as the new national flag on 1 December 1961.

Indonesia attempted to invade the region on 18 December 1961. Following some skirmishes between Indonesian and Dutch forces, an agreement was reached and the territory was placed under United Nations administration in October 1962 It was subsequently transferred to Indonesia in May 1963. The territory was formally annexed by Indonesia in 1969 after the Indonesian Government conducted an event termed the Act of Free Choice unanimously approving the annexation. This Act of Free Choice has been criticised by some, including the group International Parliamentarians for West Papua, which has termed the act "the act of no choice".[1]



  • Doel, H.W. van den, Afscheid van Indië. De val van het Nederlandse imperium in Azië (Amsterdam 2001).
  • Drooglever, P.J., Een daad van vrije keuze. De Papoea’s van westelijk Nieuw-Guinea en de grenzen van het zelfbeschikkingsrecht (Amsterdam 2005).
  • Henderson, William, West New Guinea. The dispute and its settlement (South Orange 1973).
  • Huydecoper van Nigteveld, J.L.R., Nieuw-Guinea. Het einde van een koloniaal beleid (Den Haag 1990)
  • Gase, Ronald, Misleiding of zelfbedrog. Een analyse van het Nederlandse Nieuw-Guinea-beleid aan de hand van gesprekken met betrokken politici en diplomaten (Baarn 1984).
  • Geus, P.B.R. de, De Nieuw-Guinea kwestie. Aspecten van buitenlands beleid en militaire macht (Leiden 1984).
  • Jansen van Galen, John, Ons laatste oorlogje. Nieuw-Guinea: de Pax Neerlandica, de diplomatieke kruistocht en de vervlogen droom van een Papoea-natie (Weesp 1984).
  • Klein, W.C. e.a., Nieuw-Guinea, 3 dln. (Den Haag 1953/1954).
  • Lijphart, Arend, The trauma of decolonization. The Dutch and West New Guinea (New Haven 1966).
  • Meijer, Hans, Den Haag-Djakarta. De Nederlands Indonesische betrekkingen 1950-1962 (Utrecht 1994).
  • Idem, "`Het uitverkoren land'. De lotgevallen van de Indo-Europese kolonisten op Nieuw-Guinea 1949-1962", Tijdschrift voor Geschiedenis 112 (1999) 353-384.
  • Penders, C.L.M., The West New Guinea debacle. Dutch decolonisation and Indonesia 1945-1962, Leiden 2002 KITLV
  • Schoorl, Pim (red.), Besturen in Nederlands-Nieuw-Guinea 1945 -1962 (Leiden, 1996).
  • Smit, C., De liquidatie van een imperium. Nederland en Indonesië 1945-1962 (Amsterdam 1962).
  • van Holst-Pellekaan, R.E., de Regst, I.C. and Bastiaans, I.F.J. (ed.), Patrouilleren voor de Papoea's: de Koninklijke Marine in Nederlands Nieuw-Guinea 1945-1960 (Amsterdam, 1989).
  • Vlasblom, Dirk, Papoea. Een geschiedenis (Amsterdam 2004).
  • Wal, Hans van de, Een aanvechtbare en onzekere situatie. De Nederlandse Hervormde Kerk en Nieuw-Guinea 1949-1962 (Hilversum 2006).

See also

Travel guide

Up to date as of January 14, 2010
(Redirected to Papua article)

From Wikitravel

Papua, also known as Western New Guinea and formerly Irian Jaya, is the easternmost part of Indonesia. It comprises the western half of the island of New Guinea, the world's largest and highest tropical island, while the eastern half is the independent country of Papua New Guinea.

Papua retains many traditional cultures and is home to some of the richest biodiversity in the world. Lorentz National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and the largest protected area in the Asia-Pacific region, ranges from Papua's southwest coast to its central mountains.

This Wikitravel region covers the entire Indonesian half of the island of New Guinea, not just the Indonesian province of Papua.


The Indonesian half of New Guinea has, somewhat controversially, been divided into two provinces since 2003.

West Papua (Papua Barat)

  • Bird's Head Peninsula


  • Asmat - home of the world-renowned Asmat woodcarvers
  • Baliem Valley
  • Biak
  • Bomberai Peninsula
  • Doberai Peninsula
  • Mimika
  • Paniai
  • Southeast
  • Yapen
  • Biak
  • Fakfak
  • Jayapura - the capital and largest city
  • Manokwari
  • Merauke
  • Sorong
  • Timika - staging post for one of the world's largest mines
  • Wamena - gateway to the Baliem Valley



Originally a Dutch colony like the rest of Indonesia, West Papua held elections in 1959 and the elected council took office in 1961, in preparation for full independence. However, the Dutch handed the area over to a UN temporary administration, who in turned gave it over to Indonesia in 1963. The controversial plebiscite known as the Act of Free Choice , held in 1969, resulted in an improbable 100% vote in favor of joining Indonesia. The region, renamed first as Irian Barat (West Irian) and then Irian Jaya (Glorious Irian) has been under heavy Indonesian military control ever since, with the outgunned Free Papua Movement (Operasi Papua Merdeka or OPM) fighting for independence.

The name Papua was restored in 2000 in a sop to the nationalists. The province was split into two in 2003 in a highly controversial move, with the Bird's Head Peninsula and surrounding islands becoming West Papua (Papua Barat). A further split, to create a third Central Papua province, was abandoned due to fierce opposition.


Comprising the western half of the island of New Guinea, the world's largest and highest tropical island, Papua is incredibly diverse and different from the rest of Indonesia (or, for that matter, anywhere else in the world). Despite of a population of under three million, Papua is home to over 250 languages and retains many traditional cultures that were until very recently "still in the Stone Age". Cannibalism and headhunting were practiced in some areas until the 1970s or later.

Get in

Travel permits (surat jalan) are required for all travel in Papua beyond the main coastal towns. The list changes randomly, but Jayapura and Biak are generally permit-free, and Sentani, Manokwari and Sorong are usually fine. Permits are mostly easily acquired in Jayapura and Biak, where they're usually obtainable in one day, although they are usually available at the other non-permit towns as well. Two passport photos and a token administration fee (Rp. 5000 or so) are required.

The permit must list all the places you're planning to visit, no changes allowed, unless you get a new one in a main town. Whenever you arrive in a new town in Papua, you have to get your permit stamped at the police station. Make lots of copies, you'll need them for hotels and such.

Despite the claims of some embassies to the contrary, no permits are required for travel to Papua. It's best not to mention Papua at all when applying for a visa.

By plane

Nearly all travellers arrive by plane. The main gateways are Biak, Manokwari and Jayapura, although there are also limited flights to Fakfak, Sorong and Timika. Only Garuda has direct flights from Jakarta to capital Jayapura; all other carriers, including Merpati, Batavia Air and Lion Air, fly circuitous routes with stops at intermediate cities like Denpasar (Bali) Makassar (Ujung Panjang).

  • Susi Air [1] to local destinations across Papua. +62 811 211 3080

By boat

Pelni boats also stop at Jayapura and Farfak , amoungst other destinations. This is a relaxing and interesting way to arrive if you have the time.

By land

The only land border crossing between Papua and Papua New Guinea open to foreigners is on the north coast between Jayapura and Vanimo (PNG). There is no public transport across, so car or motorbike hire for some of the distance is required. Advance visas are required.

Get around

Papua's main cities are not connected by road, and flying is the only practical option for covering longer distances. Boat charter for river travel is surprisingly expensive, the price going from US$50/day for a simple canoe to a whopping US$500/day (incl. gas) for a motorized outboard.


Wear a koteka - the traditional Dani dress for men.

Stay safe

The Free Papua Movement (Operasi Papua Merdeka or OPM) continues to operate throughout Papua and all of Papua's major cities have seen violently suppressed riots. The OPM has also kidnapped Western hostages on two occasions, although their targets are mining company employees and Indonesian security personnel, not tourists. Large saltwater crocodiles can be encountered in all low-lying waterways and beaches.

Malaria is endemic to the province. Precautions are highly recommended.

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